Especially instructive is the exchange when Joseph brings his family into the pharaoh’s presence (Genesis 46:31–47:11 [J]). Joseph instructs his brothers to say, “‘Your servants have been herders from our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you may settle in the land of Goshen, for all shepherds are an abomination to Egypt.” In contrast to the earlier explanation of the narrator that the Egyptians abominated all “Hebrews” (Genesis 43:32 [J]), the significance of the identification of shepherds as an abomination to Egyptians is unmistakable: the reference is to the Hyksos, and Joseph’s strategy involves an expression of solidarity with the Hyksos: E. A. Speiser, Genesis, Anchor Bible 1 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960), p. 345.

Consider that, in the storyteller’s imagination, the purpose of the Israelites’ declaring themselves shepherds to the pharaoh is to secure a land-grant in Goshen, “close by” the capital in which Joseph and the pharaoh rule. To announce that the brothers, and, indeed, Joseph himself, are things abominable to the pharaoh does not, however, seem a strategy devised to elicit an award of “the best part of the land,” where the pharaoh’s own herds are pastured (Genesis 47:6). The text thus presupposes that the Israelites are making the declaration to a pharaoh who, like themselves, is not at home with native Egyptians—a Hyksos king, to be precise.